Pep Guardiola will 'transform' Manchester City to 'a whole new level', says chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has spoken of his excitement at the appointment of Pep Guardiola as manager and backed the Spaniard to be “an incredible asset” who will “transform” the team.
Guardiola, having departed Bayern Munich, begins a three-year contract as City boss this summer.
The 45-year-old has amassed a vast haul of trophies over spells with Bayern and Barcelona, who he guided to two Champions League triumphs.
And Khaldoon told City TV: “I’m absolutely excited about Pep joining our team.
“I consider Pep to be one of the best, if not the best, managers today in football.
“We are getting a manager that epitomises, in my view, passion and commitment.
“He’s a winner, he’s a proven winner, he has won professionally in every team he has coached, his record at Bayern Munich, his record at Barcelona, I think speaks for itself.
9 players who could change Man City next season
NEW SIGNINGS: Paul Pogba (Juventus)
approx. value: £70m
Appears to be the top target for every European giant this year, with Pogba almost certainly on his way out of Turin. Shows flashes of athleticism and skill that few can match, the Frenchman has the rare ability to shape a match to his own will. Has a reasonable seven goals and nine assists this season, although there is criticism in Italy that he is not yet consistent enough to be a truly dominant player. Is said to harbour a desire to play under Pep Guardiola
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
approx. value: £45m
A Pep Guardiola favourite, there is a feeling the German playmaker is not the indispensable force he was last season for Los Blancos and that Real could be willing to sell if a team made the right offer. Real Madrid appear to be heading towards a clear out in the summer after a barren spell that has seen Barcelona continue to dominate. Would provide the type of deep-lying creative hub that every Guardiola team (Xavi, Xabi Alonso) has and that City’s midfield is definitely missing.
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John Stones (Everton)
approx. value: £40m
The hype of clearly went to the head of the talented centre-back. Chelsea made a £50m bid for Stones but after a difficult winter Stones has barely featured for the Toffees lately, starting just one Premier League game since January. Some of that has been because of injury but he’s not been able to displace either Phil Jagielka or Rodrigo Funes Mori from the starting XI. There’s a feeling among his critics that while Stones is eye-pleasing and able to bring the ball forward, he’s not actually that solid a defender.
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Ross Barkley (Everton)
approx. value: £50m
When at his best, there are few players of the same age that can match Barkley’s talents. Strong and quick, with an excellent pass and shot, the England international has eight goals and seven assists in the Premier League this season. But for all his talents, Barkley does have a penchant for being greedy and despite the plaudits Everton are only 12th in the Premier League. Needs to add consistency to a game that can swing from sublime to anonymous.
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Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao)
approx. value: £37m
The young centre-back, a regular for France’s under-21s, is not the biggest at 6ft 2in or quickest, but more than makes up for it with a superior understanding of the game and an unmatched desire. He is brilliant in the air and the left-footed centre-back is also extremely comfortable at left-back and brilliant on the ball, with a long range of passing. Already on the radars of rivals Manchester United and Barcelona, Laporte is one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe.
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YOUTH PLAYERS: Jason Denayer
The youngster enjoyed a super season at Celtic in 2014-15, winning the Young Player of the Year award after helping the Bhoys win the Scottish title. This year he made the step up to the Turkish league and although he has not exactly been a regular for an unusually poor Gala team, he has gained experience in the Champions League and Europa League. Seen as a future replacement for Vincent Kompany, Denayer is already a full international with Belgium.
Manuel Pellegrini is a fan, having named him on the bench already a couple of times this season for Premier League matches, although he was an unused substitute in the losses to Leicester and Spurs. Mostly a central midfielder, Garcia is extremely comfortable in possession and a good passer.
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The Manchester-born defender is already a physically imposing centre-back, standing at 6ft 5in, and doesn’t mind opening his legs and carrying the ball out of defence. City have had to cycle through a number of terrible defenders in recent years, but appear to have two in their youth ranks who could make the step up.
ONE FOR THE FUTURE: Brahim Diaz
Whisper it quietly but the tiny left-footed forward has those in the know at Manchester City very excited and drawing (unfair) comparisons to Lionel Messi. It’s easy to see why. He has a low centre of gravity, supreme dribbling skills and is calm in front of goal. Expect him to see first-team action as early as next season
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“The trophies he’s won…every single club competition out there, from the Champions League to La Liga to the Bundesliga, to the respective cups.
“We are getting a proven winner, we are getting a passionate man, we are getting someone who I think will be an incredible asset to Manchester City.
“And I have no doubt that he will transform our team to a whole new level.”
Guardiola does not officially start work at City until next month, but he met Khaldoon in Abu Dhabi earlier this week and has also made two visits over the last few days to see the club’s facilities in Manchester – their training ground and their Etihad Stadium home.
Guardiola is succeeding Manuel Pellegrini, under whom City won silverware three times in a three-year tenure.
The Chilean steered the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season in charge, plus the League Cup, which was collected again last term after a trophyless 2014-15.
The season just finished also saw City reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time, and they came fourth in the Premier League.
Khaldoon has thanked Pellegrini and his team for their efforts but also stressed that the last year in particular was a disappointing one overall.
“Let’s be objective first,” the chairman said.
“Over three years we won our second Premier League title in the history of the club, we’ve won two League Cups under Manuel, we’ve gone to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time, we’ve scored – I think – an incredible amount of goals.
“So there are a lot of achievements that have been made in those three years that I think we all have to recognise…Manuel and the team around him, we should thank them and be grateful for these achievements.
“At the same time, I think we also can’t hide the disappointment, particularly this year.
“I think all of us came with high expectations for this season, and I think, at the end of the day, I cannot hide the disappointment of myself, obviously (club owner) Sheikh Mansour, I know the fans of the club, and I’m sure the entire team.”